Top 10 Best Dog Food for Maltese Tear Stains

Top 10 Best Dog Food for Maltese Tear Stains

Tear stains are caused by excessive tear production or an inability to adequately dispose of excess tears. While it is true that certain breeds, including the Maltese, are more likely to exhibit tear stains, that doesn’t mean you have to live with the problem. Various health conditions and physiological factors can lead to excessive tear production, but your choice of food could be the problem.

Low-quality food can include chemicals and additives, like unnecessary food coloring, that exacerbate the problem. Too much protein or fat may also be a cause, and tear production is a symptom of allergies and intolerances. As such, choosing the right food could help eliminate, or at least greatly minimize, tear staining.

Below, you will find reviews of 10 of the best dog foods for Maltese tear stains in 2022, as well as a guide on what to look for when filling your dog’s bowl.

The 10 Best Dog Foods for Maltese Tear Stains

Canidae All Life Stages Dry Dog Food – Best Value

Canidae All Life Stages
Main ingredients: Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Brown Rice
Protein content: 24%
Fat content: 10%
Calories: 506 kcal/cup

Canidae All Life Stages Chicken, Turkey & Lamb Formula Dry Dog Food is an inexpensive dry kibble with chicken meal and turkey meal as its two main ingredients. The food has been fortified with vitamins and minerals to meet the nutritional requirements of your dog, and it has a 24% protein ratio with 10% fat. It is high in calories with just over 500 calories per cup of food, so you may need to look elsewhere if you are managing your dog’s weight. As well as a good variety of essential vitamins and minerals, the food also contains probiotics to promote good gut flora.

The low price and decent protein ratio mean that this is the best dog food for Maltese tear stains for the money, but it does contain a lot of different proteins, which means it isn’t suitable for an elimination diet. You will need to carefully check the ingredients if your dog has allergies. While smaller dogs typically benefit from more calories per cup than larger dogs, the high calorie count in this food means it may prove too much for dogs that are watching their weight.

  • 506 calories per cup is high
  • Uses a lot of different meat proteins
  • Inexpensive food
  • Free from artificial colors
  • Includes probiotics and vitamin E

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws Dry Food – Best Overall

Hill's Science Diet Adult Small Paws Chicken Meal & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Main ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Wheat
Protein content: 20%
Fat content: 12.5%
Calories: 371 kcal/cup

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws Chicken Meal & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is an inexpensive food that includes chicken meal, brewers’ rice, and whole grain wheat as its primary ingredients. It uses natural flavorings like pork liver flavor and chicken liver flavor, and is high in omega 6, which is good for skin and coat health and can help care for coats that have been damaged by tear stains or affected by any allergies or sensitivities.

It is also high in vitamins C and E, as well as antioxidants. Not only do these ingredients help strengthen the immune system, but vitamin E is especially beneficial in maintaining good eye health. The food does not contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The Hill’s Science food is designed for smaller breeds like the Maltese, too.

The low price, lack of artificial ingredients, and the combination of vitamins and minerals make this our choice as the best overall dog food for Maltese tear stains. However, while high protein levels could be the cause of your little one’s tear staining, this food’s 20% ratio is lower than the 25%–28% usually considered ideal.

  • 20% protein ratio is lower than ideal
  • Competitively priced food
  • No artificial colors, flavorings, or preservatives
  • Contains vitamin E for eye health

Royal Canin X-Small Puppy Dry Dog Food – Best for Puppies

Royal Canin X-Small Puppy Dry Food
Main ingredients: Chicken By-Product Meal, Brewers Rice, Corn
Protein content: 29%
Fat content: 18%
Calories: 412 kcal/cup

Royal Canin X-Small Puppy Dry Dog Food is a puppy food designed for extra small breeds, which includes the Maltese. The food is suitable for young ones up to the age of 10 months and, as such, it is a very small kibble that is easier for small mouths to get hold of and chew.

Royal Canin’s food has a 29% protein ratio, giving the extra protein your young dog needs for muscle growth and maintenance. It also has a high fat ratio of 18%, which is higher than a lot of foods, so it may not be suitable for puppies with a sensitive stomach. However, with 412 calories per cup, it should be suitable for weight management while enduring that your puppy feels full.

This is an expensive food, and for the price, we would rather see the use of natural sources of essential vitamins and minerals. It is a good choice for developing puppies that could help minimize tear stains.

  • Expensive food
  • Chicken by-product meal could be a higher-quality ingredient
  • 29% protein content ratio
  • Designed for extra small breed puppies
  • Contains antioxidants and fortified with vitamins and minerals

Now Fresh Small Breed Adult Dry Food – Premium Choice

Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Adult Recipe Dry Dog Food
Main ingredients: De-Boned Turkey, Whole Dried Egg, Peas
Protein content: 27%
Fat content: 17%
Calories: 408 kcal/cup

Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Adult Recipe Dry Dog Food is made from deboned meats and fish. The food is cooked low and slow, which helps preserve the nutrients in the food, and it is free from artificial flavors and preservatives, so there are fewer chemicals that could cause excessive tears.

Now Fresh also contains a combination of 20 superfoods including blueberries and pomegranate for their antioxidant properties. You will also find peppermint and parsley, designed to encourage better smelling breath, and whole eggs that offer whole protein. The ratio of protein in this minimally processed food is 27% with a fat content ratio of 17% and 408 calories per cup.

Now Fresh does contain beneficial ingredients and has a suitable protein ratio, but it is an expensive food and is another that uses three meat proteins and may not be suitable for dogs with allergies.

  • Expensive
  • Uses three meat proteins
  • High in antioxidants for improved immune health
  • Free from artificial colors and preservatives
  • Peppermint and parsley freshen breath

Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food

Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
Main ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Barley
Protein content: 26%
Fat content: 14%
Calories: 320 kcal/cup

Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is a dog food designed for senior small breeds. As such, it is fortified with additional vitamins like calcium, which is good for bone strength and maintenance. It also has small kibble pieces that are manageable even for your Maltese’s little mouth. The food is cheap, uses chicken and chicken meal as its primary ingredients, and as a reasonable 26% protein ratio.

Although most of the ingredients are considered good quality, split peas are the third ingredient, which means that they make up a decent portion of the food. Peas have high levels of protein and account for a decent portion of the food’s protein content rather than it coming from more beneficial meat sources. However, that’s the only real con with Nutro’s senior food.

  • Peas feature prominently in the ingredient list
  • 26% protein is adequate
  • Inexpensive food
  • Main ingredients are chicken and chicken meal

ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Dry Food – Vet’s Choice

ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food
Main ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Oat Groats
Protein content: 27%
Fat content: 17%
Calories: 371 kcal/cup

One potential cause of excessive tear stains in Maltese and other dogs is allergic reactions, and while food allergies are actually quite uncommon in dogs, they do happen. Many dogs that do have allergies are allergic to the primary protein in foods, with chicken and fish being some of the more common. Limited ingredient recipes are a good choice for these dogs because they have a single protein source and tend to contain fewer allergens.

ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food is a limited recipe. It uses deboned lamb and lamb meal as its main ingredients, and you will also find lamb liver, lamb flavor, lamb fat, lamb cartilage, and lamb tripe making up the most of the main protein. The food also contains fiber-rich ingredients, has a protein ratio of 27%, and does not contain any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. ACANA Singles is expensive, though, and contains additional salt.

  • Expensive
  • Ingredients include salt
  • Limited ingredient recipe good for allergic dogs
  • 27% protein ratio is good
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

The Honest Kitchen Small Breed Dog Food

The Honest Kitchen Food Clusters Whole Grain Chicken & Oat Recipe Small Breed Dog Food
Main ingredients: Chicken, Oats, Barley
Protein content: 24%
Fat content: 15.5%
Calories: 462 kcal/cup

The Honest Kitchen Food Clusters Whole Grain Chicken & Oat Recipe Small Breed Dog Food is a small kibble dry food that, according to The Honest Kitchen, uses human-quality food and meets FDA human safety standards.

The food’s main ingredient is chicken, and it also contains other natural ingredients, including carrots, flaxseed, broccoli, pumpkins, apple, and more. It doesn’t contain any artificial flavors or preservatives and is fortified with vitamins and minerals to ensure it is a complete diet.

The food is expensive and quite high in calories, with 462 calories per cup of food, but it does contain decent quality ingredients and meets a dog’s nutritional needs while being free from chemicals and artificial ingredients.

  • Expensive
  • High in calories
  • Free from artificial colors and preservatives
  • Primary ingredient is chicken
  • Small kibble is suitable for Maltese dogs

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult Dry Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed
Main ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice
Protein content: 26%
Fat content: 15%
Calories: 396 kcal/cup

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is another food designed specifically for dogs with small mouths. Its primary ingredients are deboned chicken and chicken meal, and it is fortified with chelated minerals. Chelated minerals are bound to amino acids, enabling the body to better digest and process the ingredients, and are preferred to non-chelated minerals.

The food also includes a host of probiotics that fight bad bacteria in the gut, therefore improving digestive system health. Omegas 3 and 6 help with coat and skin health, which can be especially important if your Maltese has been scratching at his teary eyes, while glucosamine will help with joint health and is especially beneficial to senior and older dogs, although this food is suitable for all adult dogs.

The food is inexpensive and good quality, but the ingredient list does include salt and it is a very long list of ingredients which can make tracking difficult.

  • Ingredients list includes salt
  • Very long list of ingredients
  • Inexpensive food
  • Primary ingredients are deboned chicken and chicken meal
  • 26% protein ratio is reasonable

Wellness Complete Health Canned Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Chicken & Sweet Potato Formula Canned Dog Food
Main ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver
Protein content: 8%
Fat content: 5%
Calories: 393 kcal/can

Wellness Complete Health Chicken & Sweet Potato Formula Canned Dog Food is a canned wet food that includes chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver as its primary ingredients. It also contains vegetables and is fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. The food has a pate-like texture and, because it is a wet food, it has a palatable appeal to it.

Wellness Complete is expensive for a wet food and because it comes in 12.5-ounce cans, and since a Maltese won’t eat a full can every day, you will have to store half cans of food in the fridge until finished.

  • Expensive
  • Need to store open cans in fridge
  • Wet food can be more palatable to some dogs
  • Primary ingredients are chicken based

Halo Holistic Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Halo Holistic Healthy Weight Small Breed Grain-Free Wild Salmon & Whitefish Dry Dog Food
Main ingredients: Salmon, Whitefish, Dried Egg Product
Protein content: 27%
Fat content: 12%
Calories: 383 kcal/cup


Halo Holistic Healthy Weight Small Breed Grain-Free Wild Salmon & Whitefish Dry Dog Food contains salmon and whitefish as its primary ingredients. It also contains a host of fruit and vegetables and is fortified with vitamins and minerals including taurine and L-Carnitine. The food has a 27% protein ratio, which is considered ideal, and isn’t too high in calories, although there are foods with a lower caloric content.

This is a grain-free recipe. Healthy dogs can benefit from the inclusion of grains in their diet, but if your vet has indicated that your dog is allergic or sensitive to certain grains, this kind of recipe can be beneficial. Halo is a pricey food, and the salmon and whitefish recipe does have a strong smell that might put some owners off living with it.

  • Expensive
  • Strong smell
  • 27% protein ratio is ideal
  • Primary ingredients are salmon and whitefish
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Maltese Tear Stains

For some owners, tear stains feel like part and parcel of owning a dog. This is especially true of dogs like the Bichon Frise and the Maltese: breeds that naturally have a light-colored coat. The tears themselves are a by-product that occurs when red blood cells are broken down. Typically, tears run into the nasolacrimal duct and into the nose, but in epiphora, this drainage doesn’t occur or too many tears are formed and the excess liquid pours from the eyes and onto the area below the eyes.

What Causes Epiphora?

  • There are several possible causes of epiphora, including a blockage of or malformation of the nasolacrimal duct or poor eyelid function. Health issues like conjunctivitis that lead to excess tear production may also cause the tell-tale tear staining. Even ingrown hairs and glaucoma could be a cause of the problem, and you should have your vet conduct a thorough examination to determine if there is an underlying cause.
  • Diet can also play a part in excess tear formation and blockage of the duct. In particular, it might be caused by low-quality food that includes chemical additives, too much protein or fat in the dog’s diet, or an allergy or intolerance of food ingredients.
Is Epiphora Painful?

The tear stains themselves do not cause pain, and while the tears shouldn’t cause pain individually, the excess moisture can be irritating. As well as swelling potentially caused by the excess moisture, constant rubbing and scratching of the eyes may lead to further swelling and pain.

Is It Dangerous?

Epiphora stains are not dangerous but, depending on the cause of the problem, it could be dangerous. Similarly, excess tears and a problem with the nasolacrimal duct can lead to increased instances of infection, which can also be dangerous. If a change in diet doesn’t fix the problem, you should consult further with your veterinarian.

Choosing the Best Dog Food for Tear Stains

Taking into account the various possible dietary causes of epiphora, there are several things to look for when buying dog food and looking to combat tear stains.

  • High-Quality Food With Natural Ingredients – Even if they aren’t the cause of tear stains, chemical additives and artificial flavorings are not desirable in dog food. Artificial ingredients tend to be harsh, which can exacerbate stomach and other problems and may also lead to darker staining from tears. Look for foods that are free from artificial additives and certainly those that do not contain artificial coloring. Dogs have no preference for food color, so there is no reason to add coloring.
  • Suitable Protein and Fat Levels – Experts give differing views on ideal protein and fat ratios for dog food, but most agree that protein levels should be between 21%–27%. It is recommended that small dogs have higher protein and fat content because the relatively small portions they receive will not contain enough of these essential nutrients otherwise. However, tear staining can be a sign that a dog’s protein or fat intake is too high. Check your current dog food packaging to see what the current ratios are. If they seem high, consider opting for a food with lower protein levels.
  • Avoid Allergens – Generally speaking, dogs that show signs of allergies are more likely to have an environmental or seasonal allergy than a food allergy. However, food allergies do occur. If you believe that your dog is allergic to something they are eating, consult your vet.. You can also change your dog’s diet so that they are eating a different meat protein—it is the meat protein that they are most likely to be allergic to.

Although rare, it is possible that your dog has a sensitivity to grain, gluten, lactose, or some other food type. Again, it is important that you speak to a veterinarian, especially before moving to a grain-free diet, but if your dog is diagnosed with a food sensitivity, tear staining could be a symptom that they are consuming this food type.

Other Factors to Consider When Buying Dog Food for Maltese Dogs

Of course, tear staining is just one factor to consider when buying food. You should also look at the following:

  • Weight Management – Avoid foods that are too high in calories, especially if the majority of those calories come from fat rather than protein. There are weight management and diet formulae available, and dog foods also include calorific content on the packaging and nutritional information. Generally, foods with 400 or more calories per cup might be suitable for puppies but are likely too high in calories for adult dogs. Around 350 calories per cup is suitable for adult dogs, and senior dogs should be consuming around 300 calories per cup, although active senior dogs may be able to eat more without putting on too much weight.
  • Kibble Size – Small breed and extra small breed dog foods not only have protein and nutrient levels that are suitable for dogs of that size. They also tend to consist of smaller kibble pieces. This is important because large kibbles will be difficult for your small Maltese to bite, chew, and swallow, making their mealtime more of a challenge than it ought to be.
  • Age Appropriate – There are foods that cater to adult dogs, as well as those for puppies and seniors. Just like people, dogs have different nutritional requirements as they move from one stage of life to another. For example, puppies and young adults can consume more calories because they use more calories, so they are less likely to put on weight. Old dogs that don’t move around as much should consume fewer calories or they will put on weight too quickly.

How to Clean Tear Stains

There are ways to effectively clean tear stains from below your dog’s eyes. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, ask a professional groomer to do it for you.

  • Use a clean cloth, dampen it with warm water, and use the corner of the cloth to carefully clean the area.
  • Tear wipes include natural cleaners that are sympathetic and that won’t cause stinging or any health problems for your dog but may be more effective than just warm water.
  • There are also oral medications that can be given to your dog, but some are only available through a prescription, and you should always check with a vet first.
  • Some tap water has high mineral content, and these minerals could be causing tears to darken as they dry. Try giving your dog filtered water instead of tap water.
  • When in doubt, speak to a vet and ask for their recommendation about which wipes or other products are best or if there are any other steps you can take.

Final Thoughts

The reviews above include the 10 best dog foods for Maltese tear stains to help minimize tear production and to reduce the amount of staining. They are also suitable for the Maltese brand.

We found Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws because it is reasonably priced and free from artificial additives. Canidae All Life Stages Dry Dog Food is even more reasonably priced and also free from potentially damaging chemical additives. Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Adult Recipe is more expensive but has a really good protein ratio and contains vitamin E to encourage good eye health. For puppies, we recommend Royal Canin X-Small Puppy Dry Dog Food for its high protein and calorie levels, while ACANA Singles + Wholesome Limited Ingredient Diet is an excellent food for dogs with sensitive stomachs and looking to eliminate certain proteins from their daily food

Edward Hollon is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Edward has been writing for petdii for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Edward has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Edward knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.